Animals and Difficult Choices

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Wow! The circus animals depicted on the Animal Crackers box have been freed into their African habitat. How wonderful! I may have resumed eating some beef and chicken for reasons I will explain, but my love and concern for all beings remain very strong.

For about 10 years I have been a fervent, even strident, vegetarian, a large part of that time as a vegan. I eschewed silk, leather and honey. And then my husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and it turned our world up side down. And the Universe brought a number of people and articles into our awareness about a radical new treatment for AD. It’s called the ReCODE Protocol devised by UCLA neurologist Dale Bredesen, MD. We scoffed at first, but I did some research and also asked a clinician who treats AD if it was snake oil or just plain bullshit. She assured me it was legit, adding that a member of the medical staff had presented on it and said it was the real deal. The initial study included only 10 subjects but nine showed significant reversal of their cognitive decline after following the protocol. Dr. Bredesen has proposed a larger study and is awaiting approval by the UCLA institutional review board.

The ReCODE Protocol consists, in a nutshell, of a gluten-free diet that induces mild ketosis, fasting, and individually tailored supplements following extensive blood work and genetic testing, and medication. So I began preparing three meals a day for him following the protocol, and we had to find sources of grass fed beef and pastured chicken and eggs, and wild caught fish (except large fish such as tuna, shark, swordfish because of the mercury in their tissues). This ketogenic way of eating is important to reducing the environment in the body conducive to AD symptoms.

We found grass-fed ground beef at our local supermarket and I made a meatloaf. Pinterest has great ketogenic recipes and I found a winner. I hadn’t realized how much I’d missed beef until this meatloaf was cooking. It was delicious. Then we went to a farm here in northeast Pennsylvania that sells grass-fed and grass-finished beef (some grassfed cattle are sent to standard feedlots to be fattened before slaughter) and bought a chuck roast and a brisket. When the chuck roast was cooking, the aroma was amazing, and it was fork tender and very tasty. I asked the farmer how they were raised and slaughtered, and he assured me both were humane. “They’re my babies,” he said. “I take them there myself. It’s done humanely. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

A local heath food store sells organic pastured chicken and organic, unpastured and uncured chicken sausages. I began making jerk chicken in the crockpot, another winner. I still eat vegetarian sausages because I like them. I serve his and mine with sauerkraut. Fermented foods are strongly encouraged, and I make mashed cauliflower with pastured butter and organic miso which make it creamy and tasty, and miso is fermented. We also make zucchini noodles and cauliflower rice. I steam a head of organic cauliflower at least once a week, and I also make cauliflower home fries to serve him with his morning eggs. It’s a high fat diet, and we use avocados and olive oil dressings, and I cook with lots of avocado oil, coconut oil, and pastured ghee and butter. I prepare salmon patties using wild caught canned salmon mixed with Old Bay seasoning, chopped onion and green pepper, plus one egg, which makes four patties that he loves. One with veggies is usually enough, but sometimes he has two.

We found a doctor who was trained by Dr. Bredesen to treat my guy and she is helping us refine his plan according to the testing. He has lost a lot of weight, so she added brown rice, millet and quinoa to his diet. He is to eat a whole avocado daily. I was eventually too busy and stressed to keep preparing for two very divergent food plans, so I began eating meat again and maybe I was weak, but I’m at peace with it. I also have lost about 12 pounds after adding beef and chicken. Doing so has sped up my weight loss and moved me to within about 10 pounds of my goal.

So I’m so happy Nabisco changed the Animal Crackers box to reflect the reality that the circus has closed and the animals have been released to humane sanctuaries. I have gratitude for the animals who end up on our plates. I hope those who remain vegetarian and vegan will understand my decision to leave the fold. If not, be glad you don’t have to make the kinds of changes we have made in our lives to accommodate and hopefully reverse the cognitive decline of AD. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. The future is uncertain for all of us. But for us it is scary.

Namasté

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Your Diversion: Permission

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Graphic from Pinterest, attributed To Brene Brown

Permit, consent, allow, let, give

  • Permit ourselves, permit others.
  • Consent to something, consent to someone.
  • Allow yourself, allow another, allow for something.
  • Let yourself, let someone, let something.
  • Give permission, give consent, give allowance. 

This week there’s much from which we might wish to divert ourselves. Rather than remind us all of what is wrong in the world today, let’s look at some good things, even in surprising places.

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And Still She Persisted, mixed media by Jill Jacobs

First, here’s a story of courage.

An 18 year old woman was riding around one night in a car in Brooklyn with two male friends. They were pulled over by NYPD officers in an unmarked van. There was pot in the car. The guys were let go but the girl was detained in the van. They never arrested her nor did they document the stop in any way. She has accused the officers of taking turns raping her in the van and then dropping her by the side of a deserted road.

The case is dragging slowly through the courts. She was deposed for 12 hours over a three-day period by lawyers for the City. Her courage is monumental, because despite all her social media posts since middle school and sex life being examined in the utmost detail for some evidence to discredit her, still she has persisted. The kicker? Her mother took her to an ER and lo and behold, DNA of both cops was found on her person. Dead to rights, right? No! In New York State it is not illegal for police to have sex with persons in their custody! Nor is it illegal in more than half the states in the US. The whole case is boiling down to consent. The two cops, both no longer with the force, claim the sex they took turns having with her, while she says she was handcuffed, was consensual. She vehemently denies this. Read more from Buzzfeed here. And let’s follow her case. If she can hold fast and persist despite the pressure, legal bullying and they-said-she-said applying unimaginable pressure on this teenage girl, she can change our world.

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Whether you are fighting City Hall, literally as we’ve just read, or figuratively in some other way, even if you’re trying to swim against the current in your relationship, your job or your community, you need love. So a meditation to help you feel that love for yourself is a must. Lion’s Roar offers you just the thing with some fine meditation instructions.

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Sarah Blondin, Live Awake

Speaking of meditation, I am totally enthralled with the guided meditations of writer Sarah Blondin. Her Live Awake podcasts are available online on iTunes, SoundCloud, and Insight Timer, among other places. Since we are all about consent and permission in this post, let me share with you her lovely voice asking to give you permission to allow yourself all good things.

And since permission and consent involve giving, the late and much missed Kate Wolf with her hauntingly beautiful voice sings us out.

 

Namasté

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Your Weekly Diversion, Week 49

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Photo courtesy of basketballforum.com

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iPhone photo of a Southwest Florida sunset by Shielagh

Week 49 brings us to the sunset of the year 2017. Next week we will ring in the year 2018, alone or with family and friends, and it seems that many troubling financial changes will begin to take place. Whether or not we are blessed or cursed by those changes has a lot to do with our place on the income and asset continuum. I wish my diversions could overturn the damage it will do to those least able to manage it.

But diversions are needed, and here they are! Many of us meditate these days, perhaps  more than ever. Whether you practice Zen, Transcendental Meditation, Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction, walking meditation, or another of the many forms modern meditation can take, you may be part of a wonderful trend of reducing crime.

Made with Repix (http://repix.it)

iPhone photo of the Waterside Shops Holiday display in 2016 by Shielagh

Merry Christmas, Happy Solstice and Happy Kwanzaa to all who celebrate this week. Since this is the Season of Giving, here is a powerful guided meditation from Saddhguru on giving.

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Photo from gazelle.com

Now, have you ever worried about the danger of getting a brain tumor from holding a cellphone to your ear as often as you do? Good news! Dr. Michael Greger covers this in a recent video. He reports that we are more likely to be killed by a distracted driver looking at his phone than to die from a brain tumor.

I saw this video recently in the comments of a friend’s blog, and I loved it! Turn up your sound and enjoy!

Namasté

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Your Weekly Diversion, Week 38

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Photo courtesy of Theen Moy

Okay, it’s week 38, and more violence and incomprehensible suffering. Maybe life in this world has always been filled with violence and incomprehensible suffering, but we are certainly more aware of it now with our global media sources, from social to formal. So whether it’s our own personal suffering, or that of our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico and Las Vegas, the anxieties of DACA youth, sick people in fear of losing their coverage, and floods, famine, unrest and wars across the globe, the magnitude of current suffering really can’t be ignored. It sometimes feels our hearts cannot withstand it all. And yet most of us can and do. One foot in front of the other, doing the next right thing.

Each of us has our heartaches. No human being, and probably no being of any ilk, can escape suffering, what Buddhists call dukkha. We must muddle through the miseries that will surely find us as best we can, be they personal, collective or catastrophically global. Just as a tennis player facing the ball machine, we must prepare, get into position and believe we have the ability to cope with what comes speeding at us. Yes, we will fail to see some challenges coming our way, but being accepting of the realities of this life will better help us deal with them.

That said, sometimes heartache brings us to our knees, and we may end up in the fetal position, barely breathing, and perhaps even unsure we wish to get to our feet again. It feels as if it is all just too much. But as Annie sings, the sun comes out the next morning, whether or not we are standing at the window to see it. So we might as well pull ourselves up and try to get back into position to meet the day. And if we can’t, let us believe there are good people everywhere who step in to try to help.

Here are this week’s diversions, and you’ve been very patient to read thus far to get to them!

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How about a unicorn horn for a kiddo getting ready for Halloween? Or for your own costume party! This one is available here but the site isn’t taking orders right now, so here’s a link to DIY unicorn horns . Trick or treat, yeah!

Need some upbeat inspiration? Don’t we all! These wonderful women tell it to us like it is. You go, girls!

And if you’d like to help the devastated island of Puerto Rico and her good people who are staggering from the blows Hurricane Maria threw at them, here are Lin-Manuel Miranda and the amazing musicians who joined with him in creating this beautiful song, “Almost Like Praying.” At the end of the video, there’s a link to make a donation. And you can buy the song on iTunes, too.

Namasté

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Your Weekly Diversion, Week 6

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Oops, first published this as Week 5 but that was last week!

Another week of blistering ridiculousness and falsehoods prated as fact. A groundswell of people is rising up and confronting their elected officials, if they are lucky enough that the official shows up, to demand their healthcare coverage not be legislated away.

Breathe, detach with love, put your feet where your heart is. And then you realize, as powerless as you feel, that maybe it IS your circus after all.

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Lucy. I love Lucy, and always have. As a therapist I’ve often prescribed watching “I Love Lucy” reruns for depression and anxiety. And this cute graphic reminds us that as crazy as the carnival called Washington has become, those lawmakers are our monkeys. So if you have the opportunity to attend a town hall and advocate for what matters to you, please do. [And thus ends our lesson for today.]

So, how about some diversion? These 3-D sculptures are amazing and only bloom through the magic of strobing.

And there are some totally amazing people out there. Here’s a feature about a girl named Taylor Richardson who became inspired to become an astronaut by watching the movie “Hidden Figures” and set up a GoFundMe account so other girls could see it too. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) is crucial for our collective survival, and yes, girls belong in STEM!

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View story at Medium.com

Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast (attributed to William Congreve). And while I love a good rollicking beat, this song is more solemn, which seems to be what we need this week, and it is exquisitely rendered a capella by Pentatonix.

And today this is my practice

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Your Weekly Diversion, Week 2

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Howdy, ya’ll. Well, we’ve made it through another week of  crazy news and stressful circumstances, so here’s what I’ve been noting down this week for you to enjoy or learn from.

First you might be interested in the latest from Martin & Company. Back in the 70s I knew a guy who worked there, and he told me employees got to make their own guitar.

Now, did you know that President Barack Obama published three (3) scholarly articles in esteemed journals this month alone? Me neither, and I’ve scanned them, and they’re pretty impressive. No other sitting president has done this, I believe. Boy, do I miss him!

It looks like any official efforts by the United States to stem climate change aren’t going to happen in the next four years, but as I posted last week, Forbes Magazine published this great article telling us what each of us can do, so let’s do our part. By the way, check out how many scientists have decided to run for office since January 20, 2017. Cool, right?

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Photo by Troy Dillard, courtesy of Lion’s Roar

As a Buddhist, I am very grateful that my people turned out in women’s marches all over the world last Saturday. Check this out. That’s the very cool abbot Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara of the Village Zendo in the pussy hat, which you’ll see when you scroll through the article.

And I want to leave you with your feet tapping and your heart soaring so let’s hear it for the indomitable Carole King who re-released this for the Women’s March she attended in the Northern Tier. She offers this song, “One Small Voice” to us all free to stream and download.

 

Namasté

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Oversight: Our Environment

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Image courtesy of Randall T. Monk, http://www.TimelyGuidance.com

What will become of our beloved planet now that responsible oversight may have begun to lapse? Apparently all references to climate change and our nation’s extensive plans to combat it have been scrubbed from the whitehouse.gov website, as detailed in The New York Times.

What can you and I do ourselves to oversee it and make positive change on our own collective behalf?  I was pleased to see this article in Forbes today giving 9 concrete steps each of us can do right now.

It’s on!

Here’s  Neil Young singing about “Mother nature on the run in the twenty-first century” in After the Gold Rush.

Namasté

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For The Daily Post